It is indeed my honor to be able to return to the district of Kompong Tralach after my last visit in 2004. I remembered that HE Lim Kean Hor and HE Ke Kim Yan at that time led an intervention team to help our people in irrigating their rice fields in Boeung Po and one other time I went with HE Lim Kean Hor for the same reason to the barrage of Chhvang, on my way from Purath. I could recall that in that flash of intervention I had offered over three hundred water pumps to people in the two provinces. Today I have returned once again in an aim to visit rice cultivation situation of our people in the province of Kompong Chhnang as a whole and Kompong Tralach district in particular.
I am grateful that senior officials and the armed forces in the provincial level as well as from the central level have come to join hands in speeding up the rice cultivation. Taking this very ooportune moment I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and related institutions for their contributions in making possible credit for irrigation network and system at Kob Seh, in which the Asian Development Bank offered a loan. Prior to this the European Union also granted us some fund through the PRASAC program in between 1996 and 1998 before it was damaged later. In between 2005 and 2006, we have started once again to renovate the system.
The system consists of water barrage, major canals, with various canals built one after another to help with irrigation of 1800 hectares of rainy season rice and 600 hectares of dry season rice and other crops included. HE Lim Kean Hor also mentioned in his project another 20 kilometers of canal to be constructed so as to create an irrigation system with all the canals connected to one another. To say in short we have more works to do so that water access could be available for irrigation to our people.
It is indeed a splendid time to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to the working team of the Cambodian People’s Party to the province, though HE Kong Sam Ol – the head of the team – is very busy with his work in the Royal Palace. HE Uk Rabun and HE Tram Iv Toeuk as well as other leaders have come frequently to help identify problems while suggesting a timely and effective solutions. The Cambodian People’s Party, to mention here, has sent its teams to all the provinces throughout the country, thus creating a Party’s working system in addition to that of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
It is worth mentioning here that we have scored various achievements and it is possible to say that the province has already exceeded its cultivation plan or more than that of last year. Take for instance the district of Kompong Tralach has already cultivated 13400 hectares over 13467 in statistics or 67 hectares more than registered in plan. Taking the statistics of rice cultivation in general throughout the country, HE Minister Chan Sarun of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said that we have already accomplished the projected figure of cultivation but people are continuing to cultivate on more lands. What is important here is not the figure but the actual implementation and I am not dissatisfied with the reported figure is smaller than the figure actually implemented, but indeed with the trend in reverse.
The total figure registered for rainy season rice and dry season rice has been 240,000 hectares and I would not believe so but I accept it. Last year the World Bank said in prediction that Cambodia would achieve economic growth of 1.9%, later 2.4% and kept changing its prediction to 10%, to 11% and to 13.4% and now they have suggested altering the growth figure to 13.5%. I said I do not accept that because Cambodia already printed its statistics. As I said poverty does not fly away, it disappears only by our own efforts. Last year, thanks to joint efforts, we had a surplus of over two million tone of paddy rice or 1.3 million tons of milled rice – I would say it has broken previous records ever noted. Double digit growth is also not a simple achievement – slightly over 10% in 2004 and 13.4% in 2005.
I just returned from the ASEM Summit in Finland’s Helsinki where I had a nice talk with HE Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia. He said that a developing country that score double digit growth could make a great difference if it sustains the growth pattern for about five years consecutively. As for Cambodia, we only bring about a change in about fifteen years from now if we score only one digit growth – say 4% or so. Also in Finland I met with HE Prime Minister of PRC whom I asked to consider providing Cambodia with another one hundred million US dollars, in addition to the previous loan of 200 million that was approved, so as to build more bridges and the roads from Battambang to Pailin. The Prime Minister acknowledged that he had received the request already. We have more to do, take for instance roads and bridges, so that people in the countryside could benefit from the growth that the country has achieved.
Thanks to our focus on rural development through the construction of bridges, roads, irrigation and school facilities, we have achieved such a sound economic growth. If we were to not do so, we would not have achieved this today. I told Senior Minister of Finance HE Keat Chhon that industrial development in town is not a strong base for growth as Cambodia is still dominated by agriculture. It is required that we have to focus on solving water need for irrigation as our priority. HE Lim Kean Hor Minister of Water Resources and Meteo has just reported that we have provided the capacity of irrigating about 900,000 hectares of cultivation land in the registered 2.4 million hectares or about 40% of the total land for cultivation.
Before we could irrigate only about 70,000 hectares and now we could increase – because of more fund is available from our budget – 2% for irrigation, 2% for roads, 2% for road maintenance as well as for education and health sector. I am very proud of that. In the course of receiving Prime Ministers from other countries, many of them seemed to have paid attention to my office condition and I told them that I do not build my new office yet because we need money for bridges, roads, canals, schools for my people. But I am proud though I am sitting in such an office condition.
No-one had no access to land after 1979 because everyone was entitled to a piece or pieces of land according to the system initiated by the state. The problem of land inaccessibility that was happening later was because some of them lost it in gambling and betting for a political position in political parties etc. As we are moving closer to the commune election, I warned our people not to stake their land for positions anymore because there would not be easy position by bribery. The post of district or provincial head must be approved through examination. The Cambodian People’s Party would not accept anyone’s offer to sell land for helping the Party, but on the other hand ask them to keep their land and the Party will do anything it can to help them. A person in Kompot said that we first had cows, land and good housing but after some years of helping political party all he has now is a small cottage. That is why I would respond to some doubts about land in-accessibility as it is because of personal decision and can not blame the Royal Government.
A solution now to resolve issue of land accessibility is to change our cultivation techniques from being extensive to intensive so that more yields could be obtained from same size of land. We have this issue of land inheritance where parents have small plot of land and more children than they could inherit. In this respect I suggest that we are looking into the issue of intensive cultivation and irrigation system with water availability. It is in both Ministries’ concerned – Agriculture and Water Resources – so that our people could increase their productivity. In some places there is a high density of population comparing to the land for cultivation. Some people build houses on cultivation land because their village could not afford more residential construction. So more and more land cultivation land becomes residential plots leading to loss of production and some were subjected to loss from natural calamity take for instance erosion, etc. We have to tackle this issue of providing land on social concession to the needy people and doing so should not be encroaching upon the fish breeding ground at all.
Talking about agriculture we have to first think about water. If we could guarantee our products, we could export to markets in Europe as they look for rice and agro-products from country like Cambodia, especially those using bio-organism and no chemical fertilizer and techniques. We need to develop our agricultural products in accordance with demand of the local market as well as those of outside. We have to have a good quality product and also to sustain our supply to those markets. We have more roads to build and here in Kompong Chhnang we have about 600 kilometers of laterite roads. We have built in our generation rural and national roads and our forefathers left us with dirt roads and we now left the younger generation to asphalt them.
We have enlarged the roads from before that has a width of 7 meters to 11 meters and as you can see now we have more TV stations and some of them have used not analog but digital technology in their broadcast. It is easy now that with one phone I trotted the world and I could receive message in it as well. Some people said I should make the country developed as in the Sangkum Reast Niyum. I admit that I could not make it the same because otherwise I would have to order diminishing the road from 11 meter width to just 7 meter width. This does not necessarily mean that the Sangkum Reast Niyum was not developed as Samdech Ov (Norodom Sihanouk) did a great job but only that at that time the technology was at that stage. Cambodia after Angkor period fell deeply and Preah Baat Ang Duong, Preah Baat Norodom and various Kings thereafter made great efforts in obtaining independence. It was tremendous to have achieved those. Cambodia was an island of peace while wars raged in Vietnam and Laos.
Also for those generations to come, they should not say to make it like Hun Sen’s time because their generation would be in a different state, technology and condition to that of the previous one. We could also not try to match with other nations, like France for instance, because we eat rice and not bread. One critical fact is that we have to accept the fact of historical fact and all of us must recognize that Pol Pot once destroyed us and all of us – Buddhist and Muslim – survived this regime at the same time. Today I wish to thank our people all over the country that this year we might have a good rice yield as well because of a sound management and favorable weather condition – though some parts of the country do not yet have rain – in some parts near Udong and some parts of Pursath. In time of drought I wish that all of our people should take care of wells that were provided in my mother’s name, my father’s and my wife’s.
My mother died when there was this incident of July 5-6, 1997, when I was not in the country. In those days insulting statements had been made. So I wish that people should be aware of the consequences of their statement as they have made again in the past few days. There has been this demand in the past few days for the dissolution of the Royal Government of Cambodia while transferring power to Samdech Ov – Samdech Prerah Norodom Sihanouk, the heroic King-Father. There was also a declaration from Kompong Chhnang to establish a front for which – the heroic King-Father would be invited to preside. I wish to make this clear that I see that as a move to launch a coup and I warn you of any reaction Hun Sen might make in protection of the Constitution.
Talking about transferring power to the King-Father, on September 15, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk denied immediately and I was at that time in Paris. The King-Father said he would not accept the position of Prime Minister or President of the Senate or the National Assembly ¦other functions and the Queen-Mother Monineath Sihanouk told Samdech Kong Sam Ol and Chum Teav Na Nou that Samdech Ov would not accept that. The Queen-Mother told HE Khiev Kanharith that he would send his nephiew out of the Royal Palace… I think they are trying to get me guilty through what is called the transfer of power to Samdech Ov. The King-Father did not accept it but even if he were to accept I would not offer to, because this power in invested in me by the people and it has been written for everyone’s knowledge that Hun Sen is the Prime Minister in case of the CPP’s victory.
Funcinpec used to make use of the King-Father’s name to obtain votes by claiming that voting for it is voting for Samdech Ov and they promise to offer power to him. Have they ever done so? Why are they now coming to take power from the Cambodian People’s Party to give to the King-Father? I would warn them and if they were to resort to military option they would be warned on that. They gave an interview to RFI (Radio France Internationale) basing their argument of Articles 90 and 78, but they failed to read other related articles stipulating the fact that the National Assembly has a five year term… and is subjected to dissolving only if the Royal Government failed twice in twelve months… There is no room for such an argument of dissolving the National Assembly because according to the Constitution the National Assembly could not even dissolve itself. When it was dissolved on that condition, an election must be held in 60 days, which means when it failed the Government twice, the National Assembly would fail itself once.
This is a constitutional coup and not a childish matter. One would say I am probably too harsh – yes I am when it needs to be and when it is a national matter as such. I would tolerate no move in that direction and I could not afford to let Cambodia be meddled by those people. They wanted the King-Father to get power so that they could accompany him as dependents for their own interests. The King-Father decided to cease to provide a stipend of 600 US dollars per month and if it was yet to go into effect I would request the King-Father to do so or I would revise the budget because a person who establish a political party may not be allowed to benefit from being the secretarial clerk of the HM at all. HM already declared the cessation of stipend for the person since when he declared his party establishment.
As for the person who came to Kompong Chhnang to declare his wish to establish the Front. I doubt the situation is the same as in July 1997 only that this time there involves no military forces. But it is quite similar to that of July 1997. In 1997, he turned to negotiate with Sam Rainsy, Khieu Samphan, etc. while working with me. Now that the two Parties are working with each other in the coalition Government he turned to negotiate with Sam Rainsy to establish an alliance of nationalists from what was before the alliance of democrats. HE Sam Rainsy to me is better than this person because every time he met with someone he informed me whom he would not work with because he was cheated a number of times already – once in 1998 and again in 2003 so as to increase their bargaining power to take a share from originally 20% to 40%. I doubt he has changed because while working with CPP as a partner in the Royal Government, there is this campaign to downfall the partner.
As it happened in the case of CPP, we have stripped off four of our senators on the ground that one of them criticized HM the King in the Senate. If the CPP ignored this gesture, what would Samdech Ov think about CPP? It might be possible that CPP is seen to tolerate people who are against HM. Because of such a possibility could take place CPP decided to remove its senator. As in this case, would he dare remove his men? Writing a letter to warn them is not enough judging on the fact that there is a serious matter of political alliance. I have just told HE Nhek Bun Chhay to find candidates to replace some members of the Royal Government and I work with the General Secretary if the Head of the Party acts in this way. I think this matter should be resolved before the next election comes. As a Secretary of State for justice, one acted as if a lawyer to advise the Party’s head to seek a divorce in court. In the short time I will remove Senior Minister Serei Kosal, Secretaries of State Kassy Neo, Chea Chan Boribo and Tuot Lux.
I wish to make clear to HE Nhek Bun Chhay that anyone wishes to follow him for such an alliance may feel free to do so. I would not accept anyone with one foot in the Government and another in the opposition Party at all. I continue to uphold the alliance between CPP and Funcinpec but in the case that the President of Funcinpec is not trustworthy as a partner I would work instead with its General Secretary. In the next election if I were to be re-elected I would continue to work with these people as I need human resources. Those who create problem would not be welcome. Not long ago, I think I should let you know and I am sure the Head of the (Funcinpec) Party has no idea about it – there was this move to inflict harm upon one deputy Prime Minister – HE Lu Lay Sreng, one Minister for Transports HE Sun Chan Thol and the Head of a Parliamentary Commission – HE Ly Thuch. I was able to foil it in time. They happened to say they should mobilized five or ten soldiers to inflict harm upon these people. I just warn you that now there are no soldiers from this faction or that faction anymore. HE Ke Kim Yan is here today, and may you want to try it?
He seemed to have said that he helped me a lot. In fact he helped speed up the death of my mother and also created a political deadlock for about a year. I would not deny the kind of help given to our nation. When I was in Finland I was very busy working on the sideline with Singapore, Malaysia, Thai, Vietnam to get the rail given by Malaysia to Cambodia and I asked the Thai side to help bring those rail to the border at Aranya Prathet and we would fetch it from there. I also told HE Sun Chan Thol about this right away. In the same instance, he asked me to send the helicopter for repairs in Singapore. He said “my younger brother should take pity on me” and then “CPP should not torture Funcinpec” and I should ask “who is torturing whom?” I think he tortures himself. After a promenade in a foreign country he then returned to Cambodia to create a negative political climate. I used to say that I wish I had a wise enemy rather than to have a friend who is silly. I need a strong partner and not a stupid one.
It is impossible to have confidence in him as he could not even unite his family. Now I would make it clear again that those who wish to stay on in the Government may do so without having to change party and those who do not wish to do so may leave. I have recorded my conversations with Samdech Krom Preah and I have stated out clearly three requests – 1) do not accuse Nhek Bun Chhay of selling his head to Hun Sen and some of the people, I do not understand, continue to use Khmer Rouge in their references. The Deputy Prime Minister works with the Prime Minister is a simple matter or the Minister for Transports with the Prime Minister in the cause of renovating the national road 31 in Kompot province etc. I am very sorry for Funcinpec Ministers who work hard but are accused of having sold their heads to Hun Sen; 2) do not threaten to remove so and so from their positions; 3) stop his men from insulting my wife as a person who seeks to separate him from his concubine. My wife has been insulted a lot. It is not a matter of our concern and he should not refer to the marital law as backtracking.
Samdech Krom Preah has only two things in hand – 1) using the King-Father again and 2) two-thrid majority. First, if the people love the King-Father they should vote for Funcinpec, which has been used three terms already. It was not a good tactic because when he fails to win a peasant’s son – one uses the King-Father and another uses Hun Sen. They should leave the King-Father untouched and above everyone else. Second, he seems to think of using two-third majority system to cheat Sam Rainsy. I used to say that HE Sam rainsy had been cheated twice already, if there is this possibility for the third one, he would then be the most stupid. They now seek to use the role of the heroic King-Father and this would go against the law that makes him the heroic King-Father in National Reconciliation, Unity and Integrity and should therefore be null and void. Other parties would also disagree because in the fighting ground everyone is equal.
I do not understand why they do not leave the heroic King-Father in the top or in arbitrary position but I think they have come to the most experienced. Any move in this direction – no matter if it is successful or not would clearly damage their heroic King-Father and heroic Queen-Mother’s popularity. If he were to take up political stage he would not be allowed by law to stay in the Royal Palace, which is reserved only for those of the Royal families who do not partake in politics. I may recall about the process of choosing the Head of the Supreme National Council (SNC). In one of our discussions I suggested to Samdech Norodom Sihanouk that there is a need for a Chairman of the SNC and the three options I raised were 1) a co-chairman of the SNC – on the basis that ours were then two equal parties; 2) taking turn to be chairman; and 3) Samdech is the sole chairman of the SNC but Samdech Preah Norodom has to leave the position of President of the Tripartite coalition. Samdech Preah Norodom reacted quickly “once the Chairman of the SNC, I am not involved with any political parties anymore or I have to be above all parties”.
Talking about this I may have to say something about the process of choosing HM the King and this will bring us to talk about the honor of HM and also the Throne Council. He said again and again that he has abandoned a great deal for the throne and I also informed this problem to the current King of ours on my way back via France to give him the report of what happened in ASEM. HM the King said to me after a long discussion that “may Samdech help the throne.” I said if I am against the throne is as I am against myself. If I am against the Monarchy, I am against myself because the CPP played very important role to get the monarchy re-established. When they said Samdech Krom Preah has abandoned his great opportunity to become King, what does this mean? Does this mean that HM the King is taking what is left by someone else? It is an insult. In another interpretation this statement insults the power of the Throne Council. The Monarchy in Cambodia applies election style and if he were to stand for that post he may not have the best chance of being elected because the CPP already supported Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni already. And the person who truly relinquishes the opportunity is in fact the heroic King-Father, instead.
Talking about this it is worth giving credit to our King-Father for his long-sightedness in making us working on the Enthroning Law or we might have a great difficulty for the fact that we have only one week to elect King. I doubt when he said he relinquished the opportunity, has he ever been made a King at anytime? The throne in Cambodia does not necessarily mean that the eldest son should be bestowed upon automatically. So he should not repeat his remark of leaving the opportunity for someone else. No one forced him to leave his position of the President of the National Assembly and to write to Samdech Chea Sim and to me for an answer. I said it is not my power to answer it. I called HE Samdech Heng Samrin for an election to take place so as to choose the new President of the National Assembly. He probably wanted to be begged to stay but no one did. Now he seemed to think of making alliance with a third party to bargain with Hun Sen in 2006, and I warn him this is a fatal move.
I am thinking of placing Ly Thuch in Srei Kosal’s position. In Cambodia we are in the process of observing the fifteen Buddhist religious days (Prochum Ben) and there is no war in the country, so why there is a need for this Front? Why not a front when Cambodia needed one when millions of Cambodians were killed. When the people live in peace, observe happily the religious rites and grow rice, why do they want a Front to be established. As far as transfer of power to the heroic King-Father is concerned, I wish to make it clear once again that even if the heroic King-Father accepts, I would not agree to that still. As far as the election is concerned, if I were Samdech Krom Preah I would have resigned from the Party’s head already because he failed two terms consecutively. As for myself, CPP has got 63 seats and if it wins only 62 seats I would also step down. I warn them again that the Monarchy belongs to no one. They should not use its influence for their interests. I told HM the King that whether the throne is strong or weak will depend on whether the people support or not. CPP never declares itself to be Royalist but does what it can to protect it. In Thailand or in Japan, their systems seem to be very dignified – and they have ranks for different royal kinship.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen provided a boat at the cost of 7000 US dollar to the people of Khum Chreh of Kompong Tralach district, two school buildings of ten classrooms to the College of Kompong Tralach, a 1500 meters canal to the Seb commune, and one million Riel each to 28 Buddhist pagodas and 14 mosques.